Today I’m back on my low carb diet after a break at the weekend and I’m tapering to my baseline after illness, which means I’m pretty much like Jekyll and Hyde or the Incredible Hulk in terms of grumpiness. Two things which make me feel slightly more human are carbs and my Hydrocortisone. They don’t cure my adrenal insufficiency and I still have symptoms, but I don’t have to work as hard to keep upright.
I’m insulin resistant, which means my body doesn’t make the most of the insulin it produces and it takes more persuading for it do the relevant converting it needs to. I only kind of understand it. My consultant had me checking my blood sugars for a few months and they’re always normal. I sometimes get shaky, sweaty, nauseous and dizzy which is a different set of shakiness and dizziness than what I get with my adrenal insufficiency, and at that point my blood sugar goes up (but still normal). If I eat carbs, it goes down and I feel better again. Bizarrely, the only time I was technically ‘hypo’, I felt absolutely fine. I was put on metformin for a while, but that made my blood sugar go up so it got stopped. Again, I don’t really get it, but doctors and dieticians tend to look very confused when I tell them those things, so I’m assuming it’s not ‘normal’.
Most people who are insulin resistant are put on a low carb diet. If you lower your carb intake, you should feel better because it should stop the peaks and troughs of the body not making good use of insulin. I’ve been doing it on and off for about a year and I hate it. Hence the rant. It’s not because it reduces my food options, or it’s expensive, or involves some thought to food prep and involves a fair bit of maths. Those things don’t help my general feeling towards it, but it’s because I feel absolutely terrible when I follow it. You know when you’re playing a video-game and the character’s ‘life bar’ is blinking in the corner and it’s about to die and you think ‘quick I need a first aid pack’ or whatever it is you collect to replenish your lives, and you collect one and the character’s lives are restored and suddenly they can run around and have loads of energy again? That’s basically what I feel like when I eat carbs. I literally can feel the bar that represents my x-box ‘life’ shooting up at the side of the screen. My mind clears a bit, it’s not so much of an effort to hold my head up and I don’t feel like I’m walking through tar.
I’ve been told to eat low carb, so I do what I’m told. But it’s frustrating. It’s like having a pain but not being allowed to take any pain killers. You know you’ll feel better but can’t do anything about it. It’s a bit of a nightmare though, because if I don’t eat enough carbs then I get my ‘low cortisol stomach ache’, which is the worst stomach ache ever and makes me want to blackout. It also is a sign of my body struggling and potentially heading towards adrenal crisis, so I have to act on it. Which means I then end up eating a lot of carbs fast to try and counteract it therefore ruining the low carb streak I had going. I have no way of being able to predict any of this and it changes day to day, so I’m guessing. I tried eating salad for meals a few times (I love salad) and ended up making myself really ill, having to updose my hydrocortisone and piling on the carbs so that I can avoid hospital. The other problem is that if you’re constantly feeling run down, tired and lethargic, your body can’t physically fight illness as well. Plus I take steroids which suppresses my immune system. So those two things combined means I’m more likely to pick up normal illness, which then adds to the cycle. Oh and steroids make you hungry. So I spend a lot of time ignoring being hungry and only eating when I absolutely have to. Which is really hard on morale.
I feel more human when I eat high carb. On low carb, I don’t sleep through the night. I’m not hungry, I just feel terrible. On days where I break the diet and eat a lot of carbs, I still wake up but I manage to get at least 5-6 hours of decent sleep, rather than my average of 4. It all makes eating pretty stressful for me because I’m torn between feeling better, doing what my doctor says, trying not to put on more weight which will add to the problem, trying to avoid causing myself other problems like diabetes, and actually trying to have some kind of life rather than just existing as a blinking x-box character. I’ve got a bit of a complex about eating now, even though I know I’m doing all I can.
Low carb is not fun. But my husband has been pretty good at finding us some tasty meals recently. And thank God Nutella is ok to eat!
Image: Google image